O V VIJAYAN - A Prophetic Writer
O V Vijayan - Life and Works
A great writer can divide the era in which he is living by his creative genius and originality. O.V.Vijayan was such an Indian writer. His greatness lies in the fact that he ventured to solve the unanswered questions about the human existence in the quintessence of Indian philosophical thoughts and assimilated varied strands of literary movements of modernism with reinvented traditional Indian narratives. It was a path in Indian literature which was not explored by many writers of his time.
O.V.Vijayan was the product of his childhood experiences. The topography and the culture of his native village had made deep imprint in his mind. The Palmyra tree, the ethno-symbol of Palakkad, is a recurrent motif in his works. The local dialect of Malayalam with a tinge of Tamil, multi-religious and multi-caste village system, religious tolerance of simple rustic folks became the background of many of his works. The Khasakinte Ithihasam, which is considered as his masterpiece by many of his ardent readers, is unique for its use of the local dialect and its linguistic versatility to a fictional world which is not much different from by his native place. The stories of O.V.Vijayan always present a replica of his native locality or its cultural ambience. The author has also revealed many of his peculiar personal traits. He was an introvert by nature. He was very much afraid of spiders which he used as a symbol of unreasonable fear always lurking around the man.
O V Vijayan - Philosophy of Life
O.V.Vijayan believed in roots. His novels and stories are search for the roots which were entangled in the chronicles of many generations. A person who valued familial relationships could not escape from their memories. His grandfather appears as Chamiyarappan and his parents as Velappan and Pankajakshy in the Thalamurakal. His grandmother is depicted in the Ithihasathinte Ithihasam. K.P.Ramesh points out that many of the protagonists like Narayanan in the Pravachakante vazhi, Ravi in the Khasakinte Ithihasam, Chandran in the Thalamurakal, and Kunjunni in the Gurusagaram shares his convictions and personal experiences
O.V.Vijayan’s believed that man is not a solitary being in a lonely island, but he is a part of whole in the universe. His stand was fully against the western existentialist philosophical narratives which ruled that time in Malayalam literary scene, for; he believed that there is not much to learn from the west. O.V.Vijayan did not see any difference between animate and inanimate world. `The burden of knowledge` and `the innocence of idiot` are two frequent motifs in his works which mirrors his belief in bygone golden age of cultural primitivism. In the later period of his literary career, he turned to the concept of Guru, to whom he dedicated the Gurusagaram. The author admits that even though it is too difficult to find out whether he was a materialist or spiritualist, it is certain that Vijayan sought a middle path in his fictional world and in his life. The inability of a section of critics to understand it made him a victim of unfair criticisms than that of any other writer in Malayalam.
Themes of his Novels
The historical sense that O.V.Vijayan introduced was unfamiliar to Malayalam literature. He brings back great historical personalities for intellectual and farcical discussions in his works. He reinvented historical characters to use as allegorical symbols. The Dharmapuranam, one of such novels, created a great uproar in the literary and political circles as it clearly depicted the darkest period of Indian history. It was a scathing attack against dictatorship and power hungry authorities, which has universal relevance especially in third world countries. The novel not only attacked the morality of reading but gave a rude shock also to the Malayalam literary sensibilities.
Religions have greater role in the world of O.V.Vijayan who did not have any types of animosity towards any religions and tried only to inculcate the truths of all manifestations in this world. But many of his critics attempted to crucify him labeling Hindu fundamentalist without understanding his philosophy of life or due to their inability to comprehend the truth behind his greater narratives. The author doubts whether the lack of support for his positivist and secular thoughts from the writers` fraternity had led him to the pitfall to a certain extent at the fag end of his life. The family background of O.V.Vijayan was a synthesis of Indian pluralistic ethos which he followed in his life also. Many fingers have been pointed against him ignoring the trails and tribulations he went through in his life on account of the alleged benefactors. The author reminds that during the period of their rule, he had to move out of Delhi as he raised his voice against Hindu right wing through his media, while the Babri Masjid issue was burning in Indian body politic.
O V VIJAYAN - A CREATIVE GENIUS
The origin of eco-spirituality in Malayalam literature can be traced in the works of O.V.Vijayan. The oneness of human, plant and animal life, the need of co-existence of all elements of animate and inanimate world, and communion of the material and spiritual planes are some of the themes that he dealt with in his works. Water has given a prominent role in his works as an elemental force behind the creation and destruction. O.V.Vijayan`s spirituality was embedded to his vision of co-existence of man and nature.
O.V.Vijayan was a versatile creative genius. His creative talents were not confined to the field of fiction. He was a cartoonist and a journalist par excellence. He contributed regularly to The Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Asia Week, and The Far Eastern Economic Review. His ideological and philosophical doctrines were beyond national boundaries, even though he destined to share Indian milieu. His cartoons gave new lessons for people who thought that the aim of cartoons is only to present a comical caricature of the reality. The majority of O.V.Vijayan’s readers in Kerala are not much familiar with his world of cartoons and journalism, which were his profession for a major part of his life. His cartoons were of a class by themselves in arousing intellectual laughter with its refined sarcasm and black humour. The fearless social critic and political analyzer in him were revealed through his such non-fiction works.
O V VIJAYAN AND CRITICS
O.V.Vijayan has been criticized for the role of women characters in his novels and short stories. The main vilification was that he did not give significant roles to women in his works. K.P.Ramesh admits in the earlier phase of writings it was true to a certain extent, but the fact remain unnoticed by such critics is that the change that his women characters underwent in the later phase in tandem with his changed concept of woman. The readings of the women characters of the Khasakinte Ithihasam by some critics and members of religious orthodoxy have also led to much unfair criticism against O.V.Vijayan. They have failed to discern the fact that in the fictional world of vijayan there has not any difference between the sexes, but he presents the characters and situations in their totality of complex and enigmatic human relationships. Many critics fell to the trap of fallacy of quotations by being selective in readings and criticism.